Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Jono & Lonnie in Brissie!!

After getting pretty pissy at Sevilles on our last night and being so incoherent at home that Jon had to work out how to set two alarms on my phone, they went off bright and early at about 4.30am. I staggered out of bed some time later, showered and proceeded to pack more inappropriate clothes into my suitcase. After dumping all our photos from part 1 of the holiday onto my external hard drive we were ready to go.

In the rush I forgot to pack a few vital things including my Aussie mobile! How was I supposed to call ANYONE when I got home? Oh well, after cursing myself for my stupidity for about 5 minutes I realised I couldn't do anything about it and before we knew it we were at the airport.

After check-in and getting our reserved aisle seats we headed to the gates to do a spot of shopping. Jon found the most gorgeous Armani watch that we'd seen in the mall, so we tried that on and generally played around in the camera shop and the book shop. We were both starving so we set out for Maccas for a greasy hangover cure and then it was time for boarding.

All aboard! We dragged my many bags onto the plane and found our seats. I've started the process of moving some of the things that I've bought in various countries home to pack away for my "one day house". We had bags of blankets and door knobs......sixteen pink & silver ones that I HAD to have. Don't ask!

The girl who was supposed to be at the window on our row decided she wanted my pre-booked aisle seat and tried to convince me to swap it. AS IF sweetheart!! So, on the aircraft with the crappy entertainment system it was "all ground staff please leave the aircraft, this aircraft is bound for BRISBANE!!!"

6 hours and 45 minutes later we landed in Singapore and had the chance to stretch our legs and peruse duty free and escape the general hell dimension that is stinky economy. We only had half an hour so before we knew it we were back in our sardine can and sleepy. I estimate I had about 4 hours sleep out of the 15 that we were travelling and was craving a nap by the time we landed.

My friend Dan, who's a trainer and fellow business class crew, was on the flight and came down the back for a visit during the dead of night. We chatted with the crew in the galley to pass the time and I couldn't help but think it would be great to have been a part of their team. Everyone was lovely and they couldn't stop raving about their plans for each of theirs stops. There's nothing worse than whinging, whining crew who pout at the "inconvenience" of having to be away from Dubai for 9 days and separated from their dogs, cats, boy/girlfriends, flatmates, showtime, bedroom, bed, pillows, cousins, aunts, uncles and all those non-specific not-even-worth-mentioning excuses for not wanting to be there. I say if you don't want it, GIVE IT TO SOMEONE WHO DOES!! Australian crew fight like cats and dogs for those trips and they're so bloody hard to get that the mere mention of 'I hate Australian trips because they're sooooo long' causes an involuntary clenching of the fists.

So, we flew into Brissie bright and early on a slightly-chillier-than-Dubai morning and were greeted by the sight of a MASSIVE customs line and all the stupid people who can't read the signs and line up in the wrong lines. They do however provide great entertainment for the rest of us when the tired and fed-up-with-idiots customs officers get cranky at them. Gold. I swear being in airports for the majority of the past two years hasn't made me any smarter or given me a greater ability to read a sign.....some people are just dumb.

Making our way to the Quarantine desks we were asked to open our bags, as we expected. Jon had declared a leather/pleather (not quite sure) elephant with an up-trunk and it turns out that they were suspicious of it's filling. It might have been cork, it might have been sawdust or it might have been HOSPITAL BANDAGES......righteo. Clearly Dubai (referred to as "one of those countries" by the quarantine officer) is a front runner in quality souvenirs. Amused by the possibly bandage filled elephant, we were informed of our "options" - submit it for quarantine procedures, which can take up to 6 weeks and consist of gamma raying the creature. What?!?! You read right, GAMMA RAYS. So, for the pleasure of keeping our cheap $2.00 bandage filled up-trunk elephant we had to pay something like $100 for it to be zapped and then we STILL might not get it back after 6 weeks? Right......we surrendered the creature and then walked though the big double frosted glass doors to be hugged by our waiting families.

My Mum, Dad and brother were there, as well as Jon's Mum, sister, brother and his brother's girlfriend. We all had hugs and there were a few tears (Jon's been away for almost 4 months) and then it was time to sleeeeeep. My brother Patrick turned 18 at the end of September, so as an early present I lugged home a gorgeous sheesha pipe and then dropped it when a very rude man pushed in front of me while I was attempting to get my trolley full of enormous bags into the lift. Luckily it was ok, as I don't think superglue would have done the trick!

My family took me home, and I chattered (somewhat incoherently) during the journey and after handing out some pressies and discovering I HAD packed my mobile, I passed out, waking much later that afternoon. I spoke to Jon on the phone, who could only emit a strange groaning, very jet lagged noise - so I hopped in the car and went to drag him from sleep that would have messed him up for weeks.

I promptly came down with a ripper of a sinus infection (STELLAR timing) and was out of action for a few days. Feeling like an incubus of human plague, I spent that time wallowing in bed and trying to find something in my suitcase to wear on the few outings I had before I felt well enough to go and BUY things to wear.

It was great to be home, catching up with family and some friends and just enjoying early September in Brissie. The weather was lovely, still a little cool at night, but gorgeous during the day. We went to the beach for fish & chip picnics, played on the swings with my cousins, watched telly and just had fun. On my last night we went out for drinks and I was a complete write-off the next day. Lucky the flight out of Brissie is a night time take off, otherwise there's no way I'd have made it. "Not fit to fly" would have been my label.

We went to The Normanby for lunch and drinks with Jon's friend Anton and his girlfriend Jocelyn. All I can say is that they serve a lovely steak (which made a reappearance later that night) and that smirnoff black's are DEADLY. I ran into Madonna, who I'd lunched with the day before and we were joined later by Jon's uni friend Hanka and her fiance Shane. As the "it's such a small world" saying goes, Shane (who's doing his honours in psychology) and I worked out that we were in some of the same undergraduate psych classes back in the days when I WENT to uni. We were reminiscing about a lecturer who made us laugh by imitating the noise a synapse makes when it goes off......until we realised the others thought we were nuts making a funny "put-put" noise in public.

It was heaps of fun to do the mammoth Dubai-Brisbane trip with someone who had a great shoulder to lean on when I was sleepy, wonderful to be home in Australia and even better to spend two weeks with my family and mates.

A big belated happy birthday to my brother Patrick, who's coming of drinking age we celebrated at The Vietnamese in the valley. Dinner was so scrummy I wanted to lick the plate after we'd vacuumed up all the curry and I must say that after scoffing at the idea of a deep fried banana with ice cream and caramel sauce, I wish I'd tried one and next time I'm home I'm going to have one......ALL TO MYSELF.

What a greedy piggy!

Jono Comes to Dubai

Having visited Jono in London last month, I was very excited that he was so close to Dubai - well he was half the distance closer to me than Brisbane is, so that was worth getting peppy about!

He was headed home after two weeks in London, so I decided to wreak havoc on his travel plans and insisted that he ditch his ticket via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian and get on the next Emirates flight to Dubai, stay nine days with me and then fly together to Brissie for the second half of my leave.

The roster gods smiled on me this past month, and I was lucky enough to get some days off and only short flights before my leave and then 5 more days off after! So with Jono's travel plans all organised, we waited anxiously for the two weeks to pass and then all of a sudden I was picking Jono up from the airport! I was so excited I could squeal - eeeiiiihhhh!!!! I introduced him to Ash, settled him into his new home for the next nine days and then dragged him out for dinner at one of my favourite little places down the road. The next day we borrowed a mate's MASSIVE range rover and drove out into the desert to do some quad biking and it was the most fun I've had in ages! It must have been 40 degrees outside and a little windy, but we got all kitted out in our helmets and cheap nike gloves (15 dizzas a pop impulse purchases) and roared off into the sunset. Nah, just kidding, the boys roared off but Ash and I putted around for a little while getting our bearings and then were ripping it up. Ash's friend Georgie was staying with us for a few days as well, so with 5 of us (also a friend of Dan's) tearing around, we had a great time. We payed for half an hour, but seemed to get about 45 minutes out of it - more roaring time!

I'm not ashamed to say I got bogged.....a few times. Well not bogged, because that would imply wetness to get stuck in, but I got wedged a few times on the side of a sand dune and must have looked hilarious clinging to my bike with all my might!

Other outings included another trip to the Aquarium (which delivered not one, but TWO cold sticky date puddings to Jena), the Burj, a desert safari, numerous restaurants and heaps of shopping. Not to mention the great dinner we had at Sevilles on our last night and drank so much sangria it was no surprise I packed completely inappropriately for Brisbane and wound up with about two dozen singlets and 6 pairs of shoes I didn't put on once during the two weeks I was home!!!

We walked outside to wait for our four wheeler and were slightly dismayed to find there was a sand storm going on out there! It was very hot, very windy and VERY sandy! Before we'd even left we had sand in our ears, our eyes and our hair. Lucky I wasn't wearing lip gloss, or I'd have had an impromptu exfoliation. Our fellow passengers were four of the most ancient Kenyan people I've ever seen and after the first five minutes of dune bashing, they were like "ok, enough fast driving". Ha ha, AS IF. The driver turned to look at them, amused, and said "safari has not started yet"! Well, the two ladies spent the whole time with their eyes squeezed tightly shut and one of the men had his hand clamped on Jon's knee - as if that would steady him.

After a quick, jolting ride on camels that smelt like poo, we went inside to have a the sand storm. Some yummy little treats were passed around by the drivers, who are the organisers of the safari and we had a cup of tea and then tried on the traditional Arabic clothes - white "dish dash" dress for the blokes and the black abaya for the ladies. Jon was very compelling dressed as an Arab, with a brooding stare and closed mouth. When it came to my turn to try on the abaya I noticed one of the drivers looking at me rather strangely. In the last month, I have dyed my hair very dark, almost black, and am often asked by passengers exactly where I'm from - I've had Italian, Spanish (my favourite!), Greek, Lebanese, and nondescript middle eastern. This always amuses me, as I'm so WHITE & FRECKLY, but anyway. When he was helping me with the head dress, he asked where I was from. I answered Australian and he looked confused. He said "dark eyes, dark hair, white skin......verrrrrry beautiful!" Apparently when covered, my eyes look like a local woman. Jon thought this was hilarious, as the guy kept saying it and in the end said "your wife?" to Jon, who stammered out "y-y-yes", worried we'd be thrown in jail if it came out that we weren't married. He kept murmuring it, and then said "verrrry lucky man". We were almost wetting ourselves laughing and had to leave before it got really uncomfortable.

Finally it was time to eat. We gorged ourselves on hommous, tabbouleh, kebabs, arabic bread, chicken and all sorts of yummy food. Belly dancing followed soon after, so with our last minute, still wet tattoos, we joined the crowd watching the dancer. She was beautiful, with jangling coins sewn onto her costume and she jingled and jangled in such fluid movement it was hard to take our eyes off her. We both noticed a burning sensation where our tattoos were, Jon's big don't-mess-with-me scorpion and my pretty flowery design. After watching Jon get dragged up to dance and filming the whole scene, I decided the pain was too much to bear and rushed to the toilet to wipe the henna off. It smelt like paint thinner, so no doubt it was dodgy stuff. I looked like I had sepsis - all the skin around the henna was bright red and angry. By the time I had washed it all off and returned to the dancing, I'd missed the bit where all the ladies were dragged up to dance. Such a shame! I'm not one for public dancing especially if I know I'm NOT able to do the moves. I swore the reason for my absence was the tattoo, but Jon thinks it was because I didn't want to dance.....I still deny it!

Carrying on from my trip to Johannesburg, we had an unforgettable steak night in my apartment. Along with the pretty flowers I dragged home from Joburg, I also had bacon and some massive juicy steaks too! The highlight of any Joburg flight is the steak we gorge on for dinner, so I thought if I can't take Jono to Joburg, I'd bring Joburg to Jono! We whipped up a delish salad (full of green stuff Mum!), dug out some yummy honey mustard and smoked the apartment out with steak smell! It was absolutely gorgeous, we sad at the table, stuffing our faces, mumbling around mouthfuls how good it was....and then sat on the couch for the next few hours with big full bellies.

During the week Jon was here we had numerous feasts on hommous and halloumi from the Lebanese restaurant downstairs. They make THE BEST grilled halloumi in Dubai and I swear I put on about 4kg in that week alone from halloumi intake! We also visited Sidra, the Lebanese restaurant where Jena and I almost bought the cat home from and ordered and ate up a storm! We completely demolished the food and Jon was raving about it for days, that's how good it is.

It was fantastic to have someone from home staying with me in Dubai. And not just anyone - JONO!! I'm sure to our friends at home, our lives here sound rather outrageous and strange, so for one of my nearest and dearest to experience Dubai with me was very special. I was able to explain all the things I've been rambling about for the last two years and introduce Jon to the girls and drag him to the major landmarks.

Top cap off the first half our our holiday, we celebrated with a few too many jugs of sangria at Sevilles. There were photos galore and then a session of "who's hands do mine fit into?" downstairs at Planet Hollywood in the hand moulds. Needless to say, I was pretty written off and sporting a rather seedy hangover the next day - a wonderful start to the second half of our holiday!!!

Saturday, 8 September 2007

A week goes by.....

Right, so since my trip to London to see Jono, where I was in charge of the galley both ways (which made my trip much more pleasant, believe me!) lots has happened. In fact, this past fortnight has been jam packed with adventures!

My next trip was Johannesburg and what a trip it was. Renowned for being boozehounds from hell, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they all slept and didn't bother us much at all, leaving us free to guzzle the excess strawberries in the bulk food cart! I think their sedateness had something to do with the absolutely revolting take off time of 4.45am. No one human, or evidently a boozehound from hell can be bothered to cause drama at such an ungodly hour.

We finally landed in Joburg and found that the airport has been refurbished. Kind of. The luggage collection area is THE most disorganised part of any airport in the whole wide world that I've had the displeasure of standing in. We had to pretty much shove our way through the throng of trolleys, people, strewn aside bags and then were acosted by a customs lady with a sniffer dog who looked just as unsure of her job as were looked picking our way through the mess to our bags. The dog sniffed out some cheese in one of the crew's suitcases so we had to wait until that was removed and 'declared' and confiscated and then we were good to go.

I was saddened to hear recently that our hotel has been changed in Joburg and we're no longer at the Hilton, but at the Casino. The Hilton was right across from a restaurant called The Bull Run and it was there that I tasted the BEST steak of my life. I routinely order the same thing, so was confused as to what my belly would recieve for dinner that night. I needn't have worried. The casino hotel was GORGEOUS, made of massive big old blocks of stone and looked like a castle. It had a theatre attached to it, which shows The Lion King on stage every day EXCEPT for Monday - no guesses for what day I was there. There were restaurants galore inside and we found The Meat Company (Bull Run equivalent) and set about quickly ordering a feast fit for a king.

I launched an assault on the supermarket across the road and loaded up on so much food that I way over-spent my allowance and had to credit card half of it! I stocked up on spicy meat rubs of all flavours, fresh bread, flowers, salad dressings, lollies, chips, vanilla fudge and all sorts of goodies. I staggered back to the hotel and set about trying to pack my loot into my inadequately sized suitcase. In the daylight, I must admit my room looked rather odd - the bathroom is IN the bedroom, at the end of the bed and the phone was shaped like a bright red pair of lips! Ultra modern and absolutely not my idea of a nicely designed room. It was like staying in a shoebox compelte with a built in shower!

I was also pondering how to transport my pretty pink and purple flowers back to Dubai without either killing or squashing them. We're not allowed to carry extra bags with our uniforms, so I conned one of the guys into letting me strategically place the flowers inside his service jacket holder and we were good to go. The flowers ended up in the chiller in a teapot of water and were looking very peppy by the time we landed!!

When I arrived home, I met Patsy, Ash's Mum who'd come to help us celebrate Ash's 28th birthday. I hadn't met Patsy before, so off we went to the hairdresser and did a spot of shopping for an outfit to wear to Ash's birthday brunch a few days later.

Our new hairdresser is RAVE WORTHY, so I'll rave about them. Salon Ink is located near the Rashid Hospital and is fantastic. Run by two Aussie girls, Kelly and Sharon, they know exactly what they're on about and they have "the vision". Patsy walked out with a gorgeous all over colour and foils in a few different colours, and I with shiny black hair full of goregous bouncy curls. Jennifer, who also works there does an awesome head massage and it's well worth going just to get your hair washed to get that massage!

The salon is massive, full of natural light and black leather chairs. They use schwartzkopf products and the service was excellent! It was so refreshing to go into a salon and tell them what you want and rest asured that you'd come out looking like what you had in mind, rather than be fearful that all your hair would be hacked off and you'd come out looking like that strange organge/blue haired girl from Notting Hill.

My next assignment:
seek out and buy the Babyliss Pro Ceramic Curling Wand (1/4 inch barrel) Kelly used on my hair!!